Sunday, July 30, 2017

Florence and Anton Vrana Family Reunion

Here is a group picture of folks at the Reunion that were available when the picture was taken this afternoon. The Reunion was scheduled for yesterday and today so there were probably half-again as many people "registered" as were available at "picture time". This group has been called the Florence and Tony Vrana family but with 3 other Tonys in the Family, I referred to Dad as his given name of Anton. Though Mother and Dad (Florence and Tony) have been gone for some 25 years, this remains their descendents from 5 children who grew to adulthood. And, the families of all 5 are represented on this picture. Vivian Soucek and Jerry Vrana have passed on during the past few years.
Here are the surviving members of the Florence and Tony family: They are Larry & Janice (Vrana) Sorge; Don and Gladys Vrana; and, Verlon (Tony) and Elaine Vrana. Jerry's widow, Sondra and some family members were at the Reunion but not available for the picture. Vivian's family was also well represented and appear on the picture.Younger brother Don has always been the "life of the party" and this afternoon he got all of us singing by starting out with the "Auctioneer's Song". He was Nebraska Auctioneer of the Year, and I had sung it with the Kitones, so we had a big time. We went on from there with a lot of "audience participation" over a wide range of songs.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Pre-Reunion in Seward & Bee

There were close to 25 of us at Lou and MaryAnn's in Bee for fish this evening by the time we all got there. This was a prelude to the Vrana Reunion that will be held at the Mahoney State Park tomorrow and Sunday. This group included people from California, Georgia, Ohio, Indiana, Lincoln and us locals. Bee fish is a family tradition whenever we have out-of-state visitors. What the facility lacks in "decor" it makes up for with uniqueness. While the food is excellent, there is some pleasure occasionally in "slumming".
On our way to Bee, some of us stopped by up at Brookdale to see our new "quarters".  The picture is in the lobby of the place.
Our activities began earlier in the day with a sandwich lunch out on our deck. This is the first time this summer that we had eaten out there. It was a beautiful day for it with the temperature in the low 80's. We really hadn't done much planning for this "pre-reunion" time but it has been just great. Watching old VCR tape films of when the grandkids were little has been most entertaining. It's also interesting to see what the rest of us looked like 25 years ago.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Enjoyable Evening

Our "Florence and Tony Vrana" Family Reunion will be held this week-end at the Mahoney State Park but it began this evening at our house in Seward. My sister Janice and husband Larry drove in about 6:00pm from Merced, CA. Janice drove the entire 1,700+ miles with Larry's eye-sight not what it once was. They talked about much of the interstate speed limit at 80mph and traffic moving at that speed. 
Adam and Granddaughter Maggie walked up from the East Hills Motel where both they and the Sorges are staying. This is the first time that we met Adam. He and Maggie have known each other since HS days in Columbus, IN. His Dad was transferred to Columbus from England when Adam was 11 years old. He and Maggie are now in Atlanta where he is working on a PhD degree in Medical Engineering. We had a "Lovely" visit this evening, will see them again tomorrow and more people will be arriving in Seward on their way to Mahoney for the weekend.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Sorting Old Stuff

My objective for today was to work on my LP records and Cassette tapes as well as sacking up anything that could go to Et Cetera, Recycle Center or Garbage. I decided to play some of our old VCR tapes on the little TV in my Office while  working on other things. One of the tapes was a TV interview of me while working with the Nebraska Natural Resources Commission and involved the Nebraska Soil and Water Conservation Strategy, for which I provided leadership. The interview was done 31 years ago and this is the first time I've seen it for nearly that long a time. While I was working, I never liked to see myself "in action" because of not doing as well as I thought I should. Today, I enjoyed seeing this by it showing me looking much younger and being able to articulate facts from the Strategy, without notes, much better than I could lately.
The bottom of the China Cabinet down on our lower level is one of the places where we have the LP phonograph records stored. This number probably represents about 40% of our total. We bought a plastic record player and record at a sale back in the late 50' that got us started. We upgraded with various players along the way and finally got one that can record on cassette tapes. While we lived back in Virginia, buying a new record was one of our few luxuries. When we would came back to Seward, I often would buy a Polka record from Harold Davisson to take home. Our son Jon developed an interest in Country Music which broadened our collection. Seeing Mother Maybelle and some of her family perform in a small tent on the Washington Mall necessitated buying some of her and Johnny Cash's records. Being able to make our own cassettes was a big deal when we got our current player. We also bought a goodly number of them. While I mentioned  County Western, we really have a pretty wide range. When Great Grandson Jack come to visit, he will turn on the player and ask us to put on a Polka record. He even likes to dance with Great Grandma. As we sort out our collection, he will no doubt end up with some as keepsakes. 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The View through the Glass Doors

Brookdale Independent Living units are all on the the ground level and built in such a way that the view out all units sliding glass doors is good. Our basic direction is north but this is the view looking to the northeast. The flag is at the entrance of the Assisted Living Entry which is a separate building. While we will have a garage, the parking out our back door may be utilized. I will also show pictures of the due north view as well as to the NW. We were up there again today to do some more measurements and see the inside of a garage. We were pleased at the length of the garage but the width leaves a bit to be desired. Us older people like to open the car door pretty wide as we swing around to get out.  I may learn to drop Elaine off at the door and minimize the space used on the right side of the car. The garages are provided with a door opener and with room in front to put in some shelves. 
 The due north view is looking at this white fence but if we lift our eyes a bit, we can see the northern sky. I doubt that we will be able to see the North Star because of all the city lights, but we know where it is and what better guide might be needed. The view to the NW is the back side of a meeting area near the Dining Room. The windows are for the Beauty Shop and a little store. We are living in the 11th house (or condo)  since we were married and the best view was probably from the farm house where we lived for a couple years.  We could also hear the coyotes howl and the young ones yap. Hopefully we will be able to set up our bird feeder and watch birds against the background of the white fence.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Technology in Agriculture

Greg Austin of Fullfield Ag. provided the program at Kiwanis this noon. His organization with headquarters here in Seward and 7 employees, provides Agricultural cropping information to farmers over a wide geographic area. They use a "Winged Drone" which provides information on the plants photosynthesis, etc. He has worked with UN-L Soil Scientist in incorporation soil capability into the algorithms to enable a producer to apply the appropriate treatment to maximize profit (Not necessarily bushels). It is a relatively new business utilizing developing technology. The people who work with him typically have a farm background and are devoted to Agriculture. When asked about his education, he told of a couple years at the Western Iowa Junior College, then taking on-line technical courses that enabled him to develop his expertise as well as working with the experts in his field. With College Degrees becoming more and more costly, that approach may become a model for many young people.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

A "Warehouse" of Furniture from which to Choose

I took more pictures of the "lower level" of our house today, both individual ones of furniture with measurements and some like this to help remember "what it was like". This is looking to the SE corner of the big room. The door leads to my "Office" and Storage area. The next picture shows the north side of the room and on over to the stairway in the NW corner. We hope these pictures, that will be readily available, will help us  decide what to move from this house up to Brookdale. At this time we are talking about some listings on "Seward Swap"etc, as well as "Garage Sales", maybe even "Tag sales" and their may also be an Auction in the future. This third picture looks toward the west and show my computer set-up against the west wall. It is really just a little to the left of the second picture.  We
have been fortunate  in never having any water problems in the basement during the 35 years that we have owned the house. One of the items that we know we can't move is the 14'x10' blue and white wool rug. We bought it back in Virginia in 1976 to cover the wooden floor in the Master Bedroom of our 5 bedroom house.  We didn't need a house of that size but were quite sure that we would be coming back to Nebraska in 4-5 years and bought it as an investment which turned out very well.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

A Story with Every Item.

Carolyn was down today to take some pictures of our Piano that she used in listing it "For Sale".  I felt it appropriate to remove the rubber hose tied to the piano leg that provided me the "basic equipment" for doing a series of exercises. This was most important for building strength during my golfing days. I have taken pictures of other rooms from various angles to record "the way it was" before we start making changes. A picture like this enables Elaine and I to remember the stories that go along with every item shown. An example is the Tambour Mantel Clock shown on the top of the left end of the Piano. This was a gift from Andy Kmetz, an old SCS friend in Illinois, who carried it home in pieces from the Czech Republic several years ago. It is a Swiss Made, BUREN 103434. I had it serviced by a Lincoln, NE Clock Shop a few years ago and they wanted to buy it by offering a good price.  I wind it once a week and it keeps great time. It will continue to be part of our prized possessions. 
Another prized possession is the JFK style wooden Rocking Chair shown in the back part of the picture. It was after the death of President Kennedy that we were in North Carolina, where Tim was in college,  and came across a small furniture manufacturing shop that specialized in "custom made" JFK style rocking chairs. We made the deal. They measured my height, etc. and we picked it up the the next time we were down there from Arlington, VA and have enjoyed it for these many years.  The old "Grandpa Walker Chair" is barley shown behind the TV and that too has a long history. My memory of it goes back to spending a few days at their farm when I was about 10 years old. I remember Grandpa setting in the chair and reading the morning mail while Grandma fixed lunch. (We called it dinner) The "rest of the story" on the chair involves my Mother inheriting it, being in storage at my folks place for a number of years, and our hauling it back to Arlington, VA from Seward. Then Carolyn refinished it, put vinyl on the seat and back, with Elaine's help, and we bought it back to Nebraska in 1980 where it has been a part of our living room ever since. It will continue to be so.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Preparing to Move

This is one of the pieces of furniture that may not fit into our unit at Brookdale. We bought it in '76 for our big house back in Virginia and it fit very well in the entry area of our current house. While Carolyn continues to be a great help as we make plans for the move, Elaine and I are focusing on "getting rid" of things that we know we don't want to move. I took pictures today of all our furniture on our main floor and will use them like the pictures I took yesterday of all "wall hangings." The pictures will also become a record of "the way things were". The iron table and chairs that are on our front porch will not be moved but will take lighter deck chairs and table. We won the iron ones on a drawing some years ago so they don't owe us anyting. 
 Elaine suggested we go out for Bar-Ba-Qued ribs at the Sparetime Lounge this evening. I don't think she will have any problem going to the Dining room at Brookdale 3 times a day for meals. Our small Piano may be the first piece of furniture that we will put up for sale.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Wall Picture/Paintings Inventory.

Our preparation for moving up to Brookdale, Independent Living facilities, keeps us busy. Elaine and Carolyn did some serious shopping in Lincoln and bought some things that we have needed for some time. I stayed home to do some things and took pictures of everything we have on the walls of this house. Many of the 73 pictures that I took have been with us for many years and each have a story. Many of my shots include multiple pictures so I estimate that we are talking about finding places for nearly 100. Obviously, many of them will need to find a new home. My efforts today will help us in our selection and also provide a historic record.
This painting of the Vrana Farmhouse where I grew up is one that will definately make the move. I doubt this next one will but we enjoyed it on the wall of our farmhouse and in our lower level here in town for the past 35 years. I may have to go back into my old Diaries and Journals to get the details of some of the stories. But it will be an interesting project.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Moving after 35 years Isn't Easy.

We were up to Brookdale again today with Carolyn, Julie and the kids to do more planning. We waited in the entry area with the Library room in the background while Carolyn got her car. It was a productive visit in that we got all the paint colors selected. The girls did some measuring and room planning. I took some pictures. This first one shows our entry door open, kitchen to the left, closet to the right. (little storage area to the left utilizing space under the kitchen counter on the other side of the wall.) I have never been a big fan of sliding glass doors but they are what all units have. We will have curtains and drapes on ours. 
We will need to have some furniture "cut-outs" to be able to move about to see how things will fit. We have been spoiled by having all the room that we have in this house with the finished lower level. 
We can't even think about taking the Mahogany Dining room set that we bought privately 50 years ago back in Virginia. While I use my laptop upstairs, the PC and all  other computer stuff is in the lower level; as is most of our books, pictures, records and player, shop, washing/drying/ironing facilities, storage of clothing, file cabinets, my man cave, tools and we haven't even mentioned everything out in our 2 car attached garage. We wouldn't be able to cope with all of this without the day to day help of family.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Indipendent Living at Brookdale

We did it!! We signed the papers this morning to move to a Brookdale independent living unit here in Seward. After my recent birthday, we decided that it would be well for us to visit the place to see if we needed to get on a list for a unit. As it turned out, an ideal unit had just become available. While we don't plan to move until September, the sale of our house and many of our things will also happen later. While this has all happened much faster than anticipated, there are things about this unit that we didn't want to lose. We have already started "cleaning out" stuff we won't need.
We took a load to Et Cetra and to the Recycle center already this afternoon. Carolyn had been a big help and did a lot to encourage us to do this while we can do it together. It is fortunate that Tim and Laura's family will be here for the Family Reunion and Verlon here a couple weeks later. We hadn't even mentioned the possibility to Jon's family while they were here recently. We haven't thought much about selling the house,  excess furniture, and a lot of personal stuff but that can all happen along the way. Our old '92 Buick La Sabre is probably one of the easier things to sell but it sure came in handy recently when Jon used our "new" car. It's 25 years old, still in good condition, and almost a classic. 
This is near the main entry room as you come in the front door. The "Coffee shop" is visible across the hall on the left in the picture. The entrance to the Dining Room with 3 meals a day, is just to the right of it. A Beauty shop is across the entryway to the Dining Room. The edge of the mail boxes show just next to the left edge of the green wall.  Our unit is the first one beyond the mail boxes. It has 2 bedrooms; one we will use as a sewing/computer room, 2 bathrooms, small kitchen, snack area and large living room that opens out to a patio. We think we will like it.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Check Mate

We enjoyed Rev. James Keck's sermon that was telecast from First Plymouth in Lincoln this evening. It included a story told by Rev. Billy Graham in 1995 in a sermon on the painting, "Check Mate"
The story of “The Chess Master and the Painting” 
“There is a picture of a chess game hanging in Paris. On one side of the painting is the Devil, and on the other side is a lad about sixteen years of age. They are playing chess. The Devil has a leering, triumphant expression on his face. He has just licked this boy at chess, and the boy is sitting there with his head bowed and big tears trickling down his cheeks. The Devil has just won in the game of life over this lad. He has no strength, he has no way out, and he has given up. 
The title of the picture is "Check Mate". 
He had him.
A famous chess player came through one day. He looked at the painting. He felt sorry for the boy and he hated the looks of the Devil.
He began to study the board where the men were placed, and all of a sudden he shouted: "Son, I have found a move, one move . . . if you will make that move you can lick the Devil." He forgot himself, he forgot it was a painting-he was so engrossed in it."
Rev. Keck went on to use the analogy just as Rev. Billy Graham did to say that when we may think the "Devil has us in Check Mate", we still have a move available. 

Saturday, July 15, 2017


I find it most entertaining to enter a topic in the little block at the top, left corner of the blog page and all my pages are searched for reference to the topic and brought up for review. As I understand, this service is provided by Google. My question is: How might it be possible  to put the over 2,300 blog pages that I have written during the past 8 years and make them available on an independent computer?  Another question has to do with converting VCR tapes to DVDs. I'm sure there are machines  and outfits that do it but I am not familiar with them. Your comments would be appreciated on these two questions.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Social Media

There are few days go by that I don't take a picture with my little Panasonic Lumix camera that I've had for the past 5 years. One of the features that I have appreciated is the date being shown on the prints. This morning as I went to take a shot of some of the plumbing that we had done, the message came up on the camera that the date needed to be reset. It opened to where it could be done. However, not being real astute at that sort of thing, I hit something that caused it to "go away". While I tried to bring back the "date setting page" with all the buttons on the camera, I was unsuccessful. In lieu of an instruction book, the camera came with a DVD that has over 90 pages of instructions. I was able to pull it up on my PC, find what was necessary to open it , and got the instructions. It was relatively simple once it was open  but it made me think of my dear old Czech Grandmother who never learned to read or write. She was about as handicapped in the 20th Century as some of us are in the 21th without computer technology "Know How".

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Vrana Family Reunion

We have a "Tony & Florence Vrana Family" reunion coming up at the Mahoney State Park that has been in the planning stage for well over a year. Janice and Larry have provided the leadership in working with the park and the family in getting it all put together. We had a similar reunion there some 25 years ago but the number of participants has increased considerably since then even though there have been losses of siblings and others. There are many recreational activities provided at the park that attract the youngsters.
The water park, driving range, horseback riding, hiking, etc. don't hold the same appeal to some of us now that they did those years ago. Janice has reserved a room in the Lodge where we can get together. It will enable us to share memories with pictures, stories and just renew acquaintances with cousins, nieces, nephews and all family members. Two of us Florence and Tony siblings have Great Grandchildren so it will be a 4 generation group. Facebook has helped to keep familiar with some but this will be a great chance to get to know many of our own family members.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

TV Problems

Time-Warner was our TV service provider for a number of years. When our house was built back in 1969 it included cable outlets in appropriate rooms. We have used cable since buying the house back in 1982. Since we paid for the connection and the outlets were available, we have been spoiled by just "hanging on" to our old TV's as we updated. A couple of the old ones play our many VCR tapes is a reason for keeping them. A company called "Spectrum" took over the Time-Warner TV service a few months ago and have now announced that they will be going 100% digital on August 1st. It will require a "box" for every TV to get any reception. 
 While I can accept the need to get boxes for the TV's that we most often use, it could become quite expensive to have them for those in my "cave", next to my PC, etc.  Coffee discussion led me to buy an antenna as shown attached to a window to hopefully get some local stations. I went through the reprogramming of the TV to have it on "Air" rather than cable, but the results were not what I had hoped for.
My problem got more serious as I went to go back to the way it was on cable. This was all new to me but was satisfied that I had it set for the right input and went through the "Scanning" process several times but just couldn't get it back to how it was before I "messed" with it. I called my old friend Joe who came up and found that the cable connection was faulty which was the source of all my problems. I hadn't even thought of that possibility.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Home Run Sculpture in Miami

This Home Run Sculpture at the Miami Marlins baseball park showed up frequently last night during the Home Run Derby. When Tim, Tony and I saw the Marlins beat the Nationals 3-2, back in 2015, we heard some of the controversy about the Sculpture. But, since the Marlins didn't hit a HR in that game, we didn't get to see it in "action". With a little "research" this afternoon, I was able to find this image and "play" it to see the display. It is quite impressive with fish flying around flushing fountains but not really what you expect when the Home Team gets a HR.
The sculpture doesn't get much use because the stadium is the toughest in the majors to hit a home run because of the size of the playing field. The power alleys are 384 feet to left-center and 422 to center. It is 335 feet down the right field line. The wall is also high at 13 feet plus the ball doesn't carry well under a retractable roof that is almost always closed. Aaron Judge of the NY Yankees, winner of the Derby last night hit 2 shots over 500' so the size of the park didn't stop him. I have never been a big fan of the HR Derby which attracts people to see the ball fly. Not enough credit is given to the pitchers.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Elaine's Family

This picture of the Albert and Flora Flowerday family was taken in 1944 prior to Bill entering the Army during WWII. Elaine and Joyce are the two remaining. We were up to to Ridgewood to tell her of Dale's recent death but we questioned her comprehension of it. Today the home called for her to talk to Elaine. As it turned out, I too tried to talk to her but she couldn't hear. We were able to communicate through the attendant at the facility. Joyce had her 98th birthday this past  Saturday. She and her husband had no children. A niece of her husband has served as their  Administrator. Les died 22 years ago and she has been in Care Facilities for a number of years. 
 Joyce is shown holding Elaine on this picture next picture and about 10 on the next one. Joyce taught school after HS and Summer School. Her students even included Dick and Bob, my identical twin cousins, but we were not aware of the connection at the time. Joyce has quite recently had Aunts that lived to be over 100. One of them was her Dad's sister and the other, her Mother's sister. Interestingly, both ladies lived in 3 centuries. So longevity is certainly in the family. I wonder if the Civil Service survivor annuity payment which I have provided for Elaine will still be available if she lives to that "ripe old age".

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Sen. Ben Sasse's new Book

Here is the brief biographical information on Senator Sasse as listed in the Congressional Directory:    "SASSE, Benjamin Eric, a Senator from Nebraska; born in Plainview, Pierce County, Nebr., February 22, 1972; B.A., Harvard University, 1994; M.A., St. John’s College, Annapolis, Md., 1998; Ph.D., Yale University, 2004; management consultant; university professor; chief of staff to U.S. Representative Jeff Fortenberry; counselor to the secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; assistant secretary for planning and evaluation, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; president of Midland University, Fremont, Nebr.; elected as a Republican to the United States Senate in 2014 for the term ending January 3, 2021."
Here are some notes from my August 1, 2016 blog page when the senator spoke at a public meeting here in Seward: "This was my first opportunity to see him, and I  was very favorably impressed. He received some publicity during the past few months for his reluctance to support any of the Republican Candidates for President. One of the attendees at this mornings meeting challenged him on his position of not supporting the Party's Nominee, and he made it clear that he was more concerned with working on the Country's problems than supporting any candidate."
 Not only am I continually impressed with Senator Sasse, but also is our oldest son Verlon; he reads a lot and suggested we get his recent book on, "The Vanishing American Adult".  We did buy it from "Chapter's" here in Seward a few days before the 4th and their hasn't been a day when I haven't read from it. I'm about half way through and have enjoyed every page. My assessment at this point is that he's "right on target". After reading the Introduction, I flipped to the back of the book to check the Bibliography, Index, Acknowledgments, and found: Notes on sources and Methods, but also a 10 page "Afterword". The Afterward is a 10 page speech of what Sasse's hero, President Theodore  Roosevelt would say today if he spoke to a High School Graduating Class. I read it before even getting started in the book and realized it was a cleaver way of Sasse summarizing his own thoughts and giving credit to Roosevelt.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Family Heirloom Pictures

Elaine was given a packet of pictures yesterday at her brother Dale's Memorial Service by Marlene's family. It included some real family heirlooms like this one of Elaine and Dale's Dad with his Model T parked on South Columbia Ave. here in Seward back in 1920. The Seward Brickyard is shown across the street to the east of where these cars are parked, in front of where  Charles and Anna Koch lived. Elaine tells me that the family story on the picture is that Albert is reading the Bible to bless the car. Who am I to question a Flowerday family story, but...
This 2nd picture was taken on June 14, 1927. The day that Dale was born. By then Albert and Flora had this disc wheeled Chevy which his brother Ted is driving. It is out on the farm where Flowerdays lived for some 35 years and where their 4 chilldren were born and raised. The windmill and building shown are still standing some 90 years after the picture was taken. The quality of these pictures is outstanding, even by today's standards. Picture taking has become less expensive but automobiles more expensive.

Friday, July 7, 2017

A Tribute of Memories of Dr. Dale Flowerday

By Jon D. Vrana
Today my family had the honor of joining the family and friends of Dr. Dale Flowerday to pay tribute to his memory. I knew him as Uncle Dale for he was an older brother of my mother’s. He was born and grew up in the heartland of this country, in Seward, Nebraska, where he learned through experience the love of the land, its agriculture, and its people. He gave his heart and soul to learning and teaching about this passion about the land; he taught many a young agronomy student at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln and guided many more through their doctoral programs, but, as one individual said at his service today, his real love was when he was out “on the land” in the fields.

As a young boy of about 12, I remember a very special visit from Uncle Dale, Aunt Alice, and the boys. Dale and the family were heading down to Columbia, South America, to establish that country’s version of the Agricultural Extension Service. The time was a long two years, but the country was, no doubt, much the better for his time and experience.

It might have been a part of that same time with them before their trip south that Dale, his family, and I headed for a brief excursion to Gettysburg Battle Field. How was I to know that the journey was to begin my life-long passion for Civil War history. We were driving through the ‘burg, when my Aunt Alice quickly saw that they were having a town-wide sidewalk sale. She indicated that she would rather spend the day shopping the sales than walking around the hot battlefield. I believe she would have jumped out of the car if my Uncle Dale hadn’t locked her door and drove just a bit faster.

Memories are funny things, but maybe they are there to help us deal with times of sadness and grief. I am sad for Dale’s passing, but I laugh and smile for the very special memories like the trip to Gettysburg that will live in my memory of my uncle as long as I live. And, by the way, I graduated with a degree of Agronomy with a specialty in Soils, just the very area that Dr. Flowerday taught. Probably not an accidental choice of fields.